We are in awe of Pencil & Paper Co. A design team with big and effortless style. They are colorful and happy and inspiring. They have been an inspiration to us since we discovered their Instagram a few years ago. We met at an event in Atlanta shortly thereafter. We've met a couple of times now and they are as kind and fun as they are stylish. The following are images of the dynamic duo and some of their work. We are honored to have a conversation with Gennifer and Benjamin Sohr.
We like to think we have a lot in common with Pencil & Paper Co. Not only are Gen and Ben a husband and wife design team but they also have an affinity and connection to Nashville, they met and worked together at Gap Inc. and they left a life in San Francisco for the South.
Gen and Ben are not afraid of color and pattern. They want the spaces they create to be happy. We have to say that our happiness level rises just looking at their work.
They are media darlings. The work of Pencil and Paper Co. has been featured in countless magazines including House Beautiful, Southern Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Good Housekeeping and Domino Magazine.
M+M - As a husband and wife team, are there areas of any given project of which you work separately?
P+P - When running a small business there's so much to cover. While we overlap on big picture decisions and strategy, we typically take the "divide and conquer” approach to daily work. We have identified each of our roles based on
our strengths and how they compliment one another.
Benjamin and I both lean towards the creative at heart. Fortunately, Benjamin also has a strong analytical side too. Benjamin leads new business development, our corporate client relationships, and all things operational and financial. I lead the creative team on all projects including: residential, commercial and retail design, brand collaborations, product development, and marketing/social media.
M+M - We’ve heard you speak of your use of color and pattern as bringing “happiness” to a project. Have you always been about color? Or has your use of color evolved?
P+P - I think as creatives we are always evolving – always being influenced by new experiences. We certainly still love color and pattern and that will always be at the core of our brand DNA. Yet, I think "our style" is, of course, ever moving forward and growing. That’s what is most exciting to us!
M+M - How did the two of you meet?
P+P - We met in 1995, at the start of our careers while working to help launch Old Navy brands in San Francisco.
M+M - What brought you to Nashville?
P+P - Benjamin was born and raised in Nashville. He is the youngest of 4 boys with a very large extended family that all live here. After working in corporate America and living in San Francisco for 10 years, we were ready to get back to family and start our own business. Nashville felt like the perfect move.
M+M - What are your top 5 favorite things about Nashville?
P+P - Southern Hospitality
Knowing that you will never leave the house without running into a friend
Wonderful and inclusive creative community
Easy access to travel
An abundance of old school “Meat + 3’s”
M+M - Is Nashville your forever home?
P+P - I think we will always have a home base here in Nashville. But, we secretly love the idea of living abroad at some point or having a little Harbor Island escape (goals!).
M+M - Every photo we see of your family is always so stylish. It’s inspiring. We think folks would like to know – is there ever a moment where things don’t seem so stylish? Could you give an example?
P+P - If only you could see my office desk right now – hello, DISASTER! The creative process is a messy one. Nothing is perfect all of the time. We are parents and business owners, so nearly every second of the day is filled, but, glad that’s the impression!
M+M - We’ve heard you speak of taking the leap from corporate employee to business owner – approximately how long after you started your business did you leave the corporate world?
P+P - We left corporate America in 2003 to make the move to Nashville. Initially we continued to travel and consult with big box retailers on Brand Development and Customer Experience. But, after completing several personal home renovations that we were lucky to have featured in Domino, Southern Living, and Better Homes and Garden we made the leap into a full-time design business. Pencil & Paper Co. was officially born in 2013.
M+M - It seems that your creative development company, has many creative outlets: Interior design, architecture, fashion, entertaining, lifestyle etc. What is the most inspiring to you currently?
P+P - I think we have trouble narrowing down what we love most. That’s probably why we touch so many different creative areas! I think interiors, fashion, travel, entertaining – a love of beautiful things, all go hand in hand.
M+M - You’ve had so many exciting projects and accomplishments! What’s next for you?
P+P - Ah, thank you! It's been a whirl wind couple of years. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that our team has grown to 10 full time employees in such a short amount of time. In addition to a packed schedule of design projects from Kentucky to NYC, we're particularly focused on getting out there to meet people face to face! We have a crazy travel schedule this year, filled with some really fun design events and speaking engagements!
M+M - What are your goals for the company?
P+P - So many (mostly top secret)! At the top of our list this year? Delving into into Pencil & Paper Co. product! Be on the look out later this year!